The United States announced this week that it’s interested in hosting the 2018 World Cup. No surprise there. They’ve been talking about bidding for the 2018 World Cup for quite some time although an official campaign launch isn’t expected until later this summer. However, the British media treated the news as a revelation and a threat to England’s own 2018 World Cup bid, but I have a solution which may satisfy both camps.

World Cup 2018 will be one of the most competitive bidding processes. In addition to heavyweight bids such as England and the USA, other countries interested in bidding are Russia, China, Australia, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Canada, the Benelux countries (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) and a joint bid by Israel and Palestine.

It would be a massive achievement for either England or the United States to win the bid against those countries. Both face stiff competition from countries that have never hosted the tournament. Plus FIFA will be salivating at the prospect of expanding the World Cup into countries that would generate huge amounts of revenue from new sponsors (yes, I’m looking at you China).

My plan to make the 2018 World Cup the best one yet is simple. Instead of competing against each other and offering weaker bids, England and the United States should join together and launch a joint bid.

You may think the idea is ridiculous, but consider the following arguments:

  1. Joint bids are all the rage right now. Euro 2008 will be hosted by Austria and Switzerland. Euro 2012 will be hosted by Poland and Ukraine. World Cup 2002 was hosted by South Korea and Japan. So, without a doubt, the precedent has been set.
  2. The distances between the United Kingdom and United States are not a concern. The driving time between the two farthest cities in this summer’s Euro 2008 competition (Geneva to Vienna) is more than nine hours (the mode of transport used by teams in the tournament will be buses). We all know how convenient it is to fly from the UK to the States, so consider the following flying times for direct flights between the recommended eight host cities:
    1. London to New York: 7 hours, 25 minutes
    2. Manchester to Chicago: 8 hours, 15 minutes
    3. London to Miami: 9 hours, 5 minutes
    4. Bristol to Newark: 7 hours, 55 minutes
    5. Birmingham to Newark: 7 hours, 50 minutes

Birmingham and Bristol are preferred over other cities in England because they have direct flights to and from the United States. If the FA wants to expand the number of cities that host matches in the UK, that’s fine as long as they’re within close driving range to airports in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol. The FA has already discussed the possibility of Bristol being selected as a host city, so a new stadium would need to be built there (groundsharing between Bristol City and Bristol Rovers would be the smart choice). Birmingham would be an ideal choice for building a new, larger stadium (or Villa Park could be used).

The US cities would be primarily east coast locations except for Chicago (Soldier Field). New York could have its own stadium by 2018. Stadiums in other cities could include Meadowlands (near Newark, New Jersey) and Dolphin Stadium (Miami).

The United States and England combining forces would present a formidable bid. Sure, there’ll be plenty of egos and pride at stake, so it’s possible that England’s FA (Football Association) wouldn’t consider the idea, but if the race gets more competitive, the best opportunity to bring the World Cup back to England may be to join forces with the country that hosted the most successful World Cup in its history, the United States (World Cup 94).